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Menu selections, Chow at Oliveto

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Menu selections, Chow at Oliveto

susancinsf | Sep 29, 2004 09:40 PM

I recently gave my daughter a choice of restaurants for a belated 20th birthday Mom and Daughter dinner, and she chose Oliveto. She had eaten downstairs and said she wanted to try upscale Italian, to compare it with the food she ate on a trip to Italy with her grandparents (lucky girl!) earlier this summer....

Well, I've not been a fan, after three or so previous dinners (though I have enjoyed meals downstairs in the Cafe), but it was her birthday, so what the heck...

Anyway, a recent post about the difficulty the Hound had finding menu selections at another place for a boyfriend who didn't eat pork or shellfish, plus the Incanto discussion, got me to thinking about the dinner at Oliveto, and while I think daughter enjoyed it, the more I thought the more I decided I even less of a fan...

But first the good: we had a nice table well-spaced, next to the window, and on a weeknight it wasn't overly noisy. Also good: In addition to wines by the glass, you can get a quartto, which I appreciated since one glass is never quite enough for me, but daughter doesn't drink.

Also good: the service: gracious, accomodating. We wanted one app, two pastas and one entree (in order to leave room for the cheese plate since D loves cheese even more than I do :-)) and they brought plates for us to share all of the above. The good service was gratifying since a recent thread indicated a lot of hound concern on that issue....My only complaint is that once they brought the bill and I put down my credit card, it seemed to take forever for the server to come over and take it back to process: but she did apologize for that delay!

But the indifferent and really not good:

first the indifferent: well, to be honest about it, most of the food. I just wasn't crazy about it. (other than the cheese :-)) As an app we had a fig, pear, pomogranite and walnut salad that was all about the fruit, but while the quality of the fruit was good it wasn't outstanding. Linguini with clams in tomato sauce was nice but somewhat bland. I appreciate the idea that subtle flavors should come through, but where were they? Spaguetti with anchovies: bordered on bad: just too strong of a fish taste (fresh anchovies shouldn't necessarily be that fishy, should they?). Fried quail was good, but I've had better in Chinatown for a quarter (fifth?) of the price...the cheese: yes it was very good....

But the really not good: D doesn't eat pork, and it was really not that easy finding a variety of dishes that were pork free. Frankly, if we were Kosher and also didn't eat shellfish, we'd have felt really limited (guess we would have had to order salads and two cheese plates. come to think of it, that might not have been bad... ). Indeed, there was pork present in dishes where it wasn't obvious that it would be, and where it wasn't listed on the menu (e.g., in the sauce for a 'roasted guinea hen with chanterrelles'.) Fortunately we had asked specifically about pork in dishes. However, had we not been asked, I'm fairly sure we wouldn't have been told...

When I read the menu posted recently with the new Incanto dishes, I realized that it really does have more variety than we experienced at Oliveto...

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